Eliminating every potential danger to your pet is impossible, but we sure wish we could. However, you can reduce your pet’s risk of a veterinary emergency by familiarizing yourself with common pet injuries and accidents and taking precautions to keep your pet safe. Our Madison Street Animal Hospital team shares the most common pet emergencies and offers tips for prevention.
Pet emergency: Toxin ingestion
Curious pets like to explore, which can lead to them ingesting a toxic substance. Many items in and around your home can be dangerous—sometimes deadly—for your pet, but when you are aware of potential pet toxins, you can keep your pet safe from a serious situation.
- Plants — Many indoor and outdoor plants, such as lilies, azalea, cyclamen, daffodil, dieffenbachia, oleander, sago palm, hyacinth, tulips, and chrysanthemums, can be toxic for pets, if ingested. Consult this list of toxic and non-toxic plants to determine if your house plants are pet-safe. Choosing only pet-friendly plants for your home is best, but at the least, keep toxic plants out of your pet’s reach.
- Medications — Keep all over-the-counter and prescription medications safely stored and secured away from your pet, and never give your pet human medication without consulting with your veterinarian.
- Food — Resist the temptation to share table scraps with your pet—no matter how sad they look. Many human foods can be toxic for pets, including chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and avocados. Also, ensure your trash cans are secure, and don’t leave food unattended.
- Household items — Many common household items, including paint, spackle, rodenticides, insecticides, and fertilizer, are toxic to pets and should be stored securely so they are inaccessible to pets.
Pet emergency: Overheating
High heat and humidity can be deadly for pets, who, unlike humans, cannot cool themselves by sweating and, instead, rely on panting, which is less efficient and increases their risk of overheating and heatstroke. Take these precautions to keep your pet cool in the heat:
- Avoid the midday heat when exercising your pet — Walk your pet in the cool early morning or evening.
- Limit your pet’s time outdoors — On extremely hot, humid days, your pet is safest inside in air-conditioning. When your pet does go outdoors, ensure they have access to plenty of shade and cool, fresh water.
- Keep your pet hydrated — In addition to fresh water, offer your pet frozen treats and ice cubes to keep them cool, hydrated, and happy on hot days.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car — The temperature inside a parked vehicle can rise to unsafe levels rapidly, and parking in the shade or leaving the window cracked does not decrease the heat or increase your pet’s safety.
Watch your pet for heatstroke signs, which include excessive panting, drooling, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea weakness, stumbling, sudden collapse, and seizures. If you notice any signs of overheating, act quickly, offer your pet cool, never cold, water, and seek immediate veterinary care.
Pet emergency: Car accidents
Many pets die each year after being hit by a car, and those who survive often suffer from internal injuries, bleeding, broken bones, and severe emotional trauma. Protect your pet by keeping them leashed whenever they are outside, unless they are in a securely fenced area.
Pet emergency: Animal fights
A pet who feels uncomfortable or threatened in a social situation may react aggressively out of fear and anxiety. Be mindful when pets meet for the first time, introduce them gradually, observe their body language, and never force an interaction. The extent of the injuries in a pet involved in a fight can be difficult to determine, especially if the pet has thick fur—and a veterinary examination as soon as possible is always warranted.
Prevent animal fights by always keeping your pet leashed and removing them immediately from any potentially dangerous situation.
Pet emergency: Becoming lost
To avoid losing your pet, ensure your yard’s fence is secure and tall enough that your pet can’t escape, and keep your pet leashed in public places. Your pet should always wear a secure collar with legible identification tags that include your contact information. Microchipping, which is a quick, painless procedure, provides permanent identification and is the best way to ensure you and your pet are reunited should they become lost.
Scheduling regular wellness exams for your pet is the best way to ensure health issues are discovered before they become an emergency. Pet owners must also be mindful always of potential pet emergencies, take precautions, and know the signs. However, sometimes accidents are unavoidable, so contact our Madison Street Animal Hospital team immediately if your pet needs emergency care.
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